Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A colheita amêndoas -the almond harvest

Here we go gathering nuts in September.That is when the fruit of the almond tree – both bitter and sweet varieties - are ready for harvesting. A common sound, as well as sight, in the Algarve at this time of year is that of men with long poles knocking the nuts from the branches.Today saw a slightly different sight,a variation on the theme of men with long poles in the form yours truly, O cozinheiro, precariously balanced atop a metal step ladder(totally the wrong apparatus for such a job) devoid of pole, more daintily picking the almonds from our tree with my own fair cooks hands.
After their laborious collection, the fruits are laid out to dry in the sun.This could be a tad difficult as  heavy rains,the first for a year, are forecast for tomorrow.In the sun the leathery outer hull splits open,curls outwards and discharges the inner nut, which then has to be shelled.I am lucky enough to have harvested the nuts rather late and this process has already started before I picked them.So all in all I am now well on way to bringing my squirrel nutkin horde into the larder in readiness for all those tempting seasonal cakes and confectioneries.Turrón de guirlache, christmas cake, panforte, Florentines and much more.As the Hairy Bikers would say "I just can'at waaaiiittt"!!!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

We should cuoco

Last year I was asked by my friend Adrian Henry if I would contribute two recipes to his first book."Cuoco, recipes from Umbria's larder" The first thing that came to mind was the crossover between the Italian and Portuguese kitchens.Take for example  Zuppa con Fave e piselli novelli.This recipe has so much Algarve in it -"favas à algarvia” (broad bean dish) and “ervilhas à moda do Algarve” (pea dish).So too salt cod fritters. For my saltimbocca with a difference I took the classic Umbrian dish and exchanged the traditional veal with delicious slices of Portuguese pork loin and Spanish jamon serrano.Finally my alchemists pudding, "A dollop of Italy, a Spanish thread and a drop of Portugal", which Adrian has put his own stamp on, and a very special edition stamp too, that I feel should be valued in any collection of recipes, no more so than alongside all the other mouth watering recipes he has collated in Cuoco.Well, a year down the line this livro/libro has come to fruition and landed on our doormat last week.Supported by the beautiful photography of Adrian´s partner Rachel Williams, a graphic designer and painter in her own right,this first work deserves a place on the bookshelf of anybody keen to get to the heart of the Bocca em Umbria.Back here at Casa Rosada it has got us thinking  that perhaps we should Cuoco too, meanwhile I look forward to "Cuoco 2."
If you want to buy a copy of Cuoco click here.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Oh crumbs - do you know your migas?

Migas derives from the verb “migar” which generally means to crush or to break up  bread in sauces.Migas also means "crumbs" in Spanish. So taking its origin as a Spanish and Portuguese dish consisting primarily of day-old bread crumbs soaked in oil and water, seasoned with spices and then fried with Chouriço and bacon lets see what treats are on offer.The Oh so English Bubble and squeak is first to spring to mind because of its close affinity as a left over dish.Not a leftover dish, but Irish Colcannon is another.
Like açorda,migas are peasant dishes packed full of flavour and goodness,in spite of their lack of elegance.The dividing line between açorda and migas is fuzzy and may depend only on regional variation, although generally migas tend to have a different texture and to be drier. In some places making migas(fazer migas) just involves soaking crumbled Broa ( corn bread) in milk or water.It can also be prepared with potatoes in lieu of bread. Spanish or Portuguese migas recipes start with pieces of crumbled bread. These are sprinkled with water and allowed to soak in the moisture, the bread is then fried in a pan with oil, spices, and garlic until it is browned. The last step is the addition of any other meats, vegetables, beans, or rice as desired.Originally a breakfast dish, but like so many peasant dishes it has now been re-invented and is making many an appearance on the menus of smart city restaurants across the globe, where it is now  commonly served for lunch and dinner,usually as a side dish or accompaniment to the main attraction.Lets face reality, we are all peasants at heart and enjoy eating this sort of food, or at least the press and jornalista foodistas get much pleasure from telling us we do.
As a homely  breakfast in southern American states,it has another horrendous left-over incarnation as part of the Tex Mex cuisine, made with eggs, corn tortillas and salsa.I fear I might rekindle the Alamo, so before I start another Texan revolution lets quickly pass on that one and for a moment go back to its proper Iberican roots,as a breakfast dish.
Lets look at the the way the French do it. Be it coffee, tea or hot chocolate. It is easier to dip your croissant or your tartine (buttered bread)into a bowl not a cup. Besides, one needs a good breakfast to start the day and coffee cups are too small. The origin of the bowl comes from before coffee and chocolate were brought to Europe, when it was soup that was drunk for breakfast in those bowls. They kept the bowls and changed the liquid.

Breakfast Ribatejo style -coffee migas and fresh figs
Simply soak crumbled broa in black coffee,then serve very hot,in a small bowl sprinkled with sugar.Serve this alongside the most gorgeous figs you can lay your hands on and eh voila - nouveau petit dejeuner or as we say in Portugal novo pequeno almoço.Gosto immenso.Bom apetite. 
Migas is the ultimate leftover dish but with a little imaginative playing with the standard ingredients, it can become an exceptionally elegant and inventive dish.
In addition to the olive oil and garlic common in the Spanish variety of migas, the Portuguese version can include coriander, red pepper paste, tomato,sweet potato and chestnut.
There are many regional variations but since I always have some chorizo and toucino or pancetta in the fridge, this is the version I usually cook.It is the most aromatic of bread dishes and a big Portuguese favourite.It is extremely easy to make
Migas Alentejo style( Migas Alentejanas)
Serves 4
400g (14oz) pork loin
100g(31/2 oz) fatty bacon
150g(5oz) Chouriço
3 large garlic cloves plus two extra frying with the meat
large handful of roughly chopped coriander
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
400g(14oz)stale robust bread crumbled into small pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
300ml (1/2 pint ) salted boiling water

Process the garlic and coriander or even better crush them together with some salt in a pestle and mortar.Place this pulp in a large mixing bowl or tureen,add the boiling salted water and the olive oil.Break the bread into small chunks and add to the bowl.Knead it together well with your hands until it resembles the texture of mashed potato.Leave it to soak well.The longer the better.If you have time it could be overnight.
Chop the bacon into small pieces and fry slowly until all the fat has been extracted from it.Set it aside.In the same fat fry the garlic,chouriço and the pork,cut into 2.5cm(1in) cubes.Season well with the paprika and some salt.Keep turning the meat until it is ready(10 to 15 minutes max).Put the meat aside, keeping it warm and reserve the pan fats and juices.Put the bread mixture( migas) into the frying pan containing the juices and fat from the fried meat and raise the heat.Fry the migas until it has aquired a golden crust.Serve it surrounded by the meat.
If you are following the Spanish rule book then it is traditionally served with a fried egg on top.For a slightly different take on this, and always a guaranteed good read, try fellow blogger Marmaduke Scarlet´s version.I never cease to be amazed by what she can magic up with some breadcrumbs.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Medallions of pork with preserved lemon and new potatoes

This simple, tasty, Moorish inspired pork dish has that early autumnal feel about it. It is packed with umami and and is easy peasy to make,prep to table in just 30 minutes.A perfect midweek supper or something to have cooking while you catch up on the latest instalment of your favourite soap opera.So just pop it in Pete, and dinner´s ready in just a jiffy.I just love an all in one dish.

Medallions of pork with preserved lemons and potatoes
Serves 4

1 pork fillet,about 500g cut into medallions
1 preserved lemon
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1tsp smoked paprika
16 largish new potatoes
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 red onions cut into wedges
Extra virgin olive oil 
Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Rinse the lemon under running water, discard the flesh and save the rind. Put the lemon, garlic, red chilli, paprika, honey and coriander in a food processor. Purée until fine.Cut the potatoes into three and par boil them in salted water for ten minutes or until they take the tip of a sharp pointed kitchen knife. Put the vegetables on a large baking tray, toss with a tsp oil and season.
Rub the purée over the meat and sit on the tray with the veg. Bake for 25 minutes until the meat is cooked through.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Big Broa

My first attempt at home made Broa de milho (maize bread)
Once upon a time in Portuguese peasant homes there was usually home made bread,though nowadays perhaps less frequently.It is an essential ingredient for an abundance of Portuguese bread dishes.There are açordas,ensopados,migas, a variation on açorda, and Gazpacho.It is of course possible to buy a valiant attempt at the so-called peasant loaf all over Portugal, in supermarkets or bakeries.But do not let your taste buds deceive, you it will never match up to the hands on home made variety.These white lifeless breads of a cotton wool consistency will scupper the chance of your bread dish being as appealing as it deserves to be had you used the real McCoy.The bread of choice for these kind of dishes is a good old fashioned home made Broa de milho like the grand mothers used to make,typical peasant bread at its best.When properly made,maize bread should have a good crumbling consistency and therefore be ideal for thickening up these soups and other bread dishes.This bread is also particularly good to eat with those delicious small olives, so typical of Portuguese tables,with a good cheese or some cured meat.
Well I decided to be avõ (Portuguese granny) for a day, put my pinny on, pour out some papa de milho on a board and start kneading. I would advise beginners like me who have not done this before to halve the quantity stated in the recipe which makes two loaves,and not be put off by the`boiling water method´,which is an essential part of maize breadmaking.Good luck....

Broa de milho
(this is the traditional recipe for a heavy broa.For alighter loaf,use equal parts of both flours and still keep the same method)
450 g (1lb cornmeal)
175g(6oz) unbleached white flour
30g (1oz) fresh yeast (or equivalent  dried yeast)
15g (1/2 oz) sea salt
600ml(1pint) boiling water
Crumble the yeast and mix with a little tepid water.Add a quarter of the white flour and mix well.Set aside.Put the maize flour in a roomy bowl and pour the boiling water over it.Mix well using a spatula, to avoid burning your hands.cover until the temperature allows you to do some kneading,for a couple of minutes.Add the salt,the prepared yeast and remaining white flour.Now give it a really good really kneading, addinmg alittle more tepid water very gradually if you the dough is excessively dry,but not until then.I found my dough was a little on the wet side and ended up adding some more flour.When the dough is smooth,cover with a cloth and and leave in a warm place,to rise for an hour.Knead again  for just a few minutes and divide the dough into two halves.shape each half into a ball,rolling it in a bowl containing flour,to coat it all over.This will give the broa loaf a whtish crust,when it comes out of the oven,with yellow brown on a greased,floured baking tray,cover again and leave to prove in a warm place for another 20 minutes.bake it in the oven (219C/425f/Gas 7) for 25 minutes or until it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.Do not undercook your broa but try not to burn it either,or it will be too dry.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
maize bread keeps well for about a week,if kept in a plastic bag in a bread bin.
It can also be frozen.

Friday, 14 September 2012

O almoço Algarvia com um imprevisto, laranjas frescas e brownies salgados

Awaiting the arrival of the guests
The table is set
Some wine is coiffed

The tuna is served
The temperature is rising again.An end of summer heatwave and the arrival date of the first rain remains unknown.Yesterday Casa Rosada was party to an Algarvian lunch with a difference.Eating a Portuguese lunch of the freshest grilled fish with your bare feet on a carpet of white salt while your chair slowly sinks into the salt and the soil bed of the salt pan beneath it is a once in a lifetime experience.If this wasn´t Portugal what is? Imagine having a picnic in the snow but the sun is beating down and the snow never melts.The occasion was to introduce and promote the Castro Marim Sapal and Salmarim´s traditional and artesan method of salt production to  a group of international journalists from an  association based in Lisbon.We all contributed to making this alternative and unusual lunch something special.The President of the Camara declined an invitation on the grounds it was something that was impossible to instigate.We pressed on regardless.Ristorante Manuel Dágua cooked the most delicious sardines,eaten with the freshest local bread to mop up the oily juices from the fish, and the most delicious fresh salada picada.This was followed by grilled anchova and tarantello, an unusual cut of tuna from the side of the rib cage.I have to mention too the patatas cozido (boiled potatoes) which were so perfectly cooked that you could just peel the skin away with your fingernail.The meal was all washed down with the finest Algarvian wine from Quinta do Barranco Longo served by its creator Rui Virginia, who offered  a chardonnay varietal, oaked Rose and a new vinho tinto reserva.Finally I had to pull the legs of my chair from their firm anchor in the salt pan and propel myself towards the coolth of the armazen ( warehouse )where I had left my previously prepared salt caramel chocolate brownies and rustle up another quick dessert with fresh oranges supplied by Frusoal.My inspiration here came from a recipe originally conceived specially for Salmarim by Chef Henrique Pessoa of Restaurant Assinatura in Lisboa.Its called "Spiced oranges like our grannies made"and Chef Pessoa suggests it can be served as a garnish for grilled or roasted meat or fish, but I had something else in mind so taking this as my  inspiration I removed the garlic cloves, oregano and olive oil from the recipe and kept the salt and fresh thyme to create a refreshing after meal refresher.For those of you in England you might see it as a post modern half-time refreshment.

"Spiced oranges like our grannies made"
4 large oranges (laranjas) thinly sliced( fatiado fino)
Flor de sal salmarim Aromatica
Fresh sprigs of Thyme (raminhos de tomilho)
Thinly slice the oranges in rounds.Lay overlapping on a large platter, sprinkle with Flor de sal aromatica and thyme 

Here´s to yesterday´s lunch and all tomorrow´s parties

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A infanta Portuguesa e o borracheiro-

A storm in a tea cup
First shown on English television in 1984, the famous 'You Can't Get Better Than a Kwik-Fit Fitter' adverts made the company into a household name.When I pulled into my local pit stop here in Portugal to have a tyre changed earlier this week the last thing I expected was to be greeted by an extremely well educated and polite fitter. I certainly did not expect  to leave with a gem of a snippet of Anglo Portuguese history under my belt.The story I left with was the true story of how afternoon tea was introduced into English society and it inspired me to delve deeper and check out some more precise facts.Nowadays tea is so much associated with the British way of life that it may come as a surprise to learn, as I did, that it owes much of its popularity to a foreign princess. While it is not true to say that Catherine of Braganza, the queen-consort of Charles II of England, actually introduced tea to Britain, she certainly had much to do with it becoming a fashionable and widely drunk beverage.With her marriage to Charles II, suddenly two life-long tea drinkers took the throne of England by storm and tea became the "in" drink. Before long, afternoon tea had become an English tradition.
Catherine arrived in Portsmouth on 13 May 1662 and after a long and stormy crossing, she asked on her arrival for a cup of tea. So rare was it at this time that there was none available; the princess was offered a glass of ale instead. Not surprisingly, this did not make her feel any better, and for a time she was forced by illness to retire to her bedchamber.She had however brought with her as part of her dowry a chest of tea, not only her personal preference, but the favoured drink at the Portuguese court and already common across Europe.
Over time she established herself, and as the pre-eminent woman in the kingdom became something of a trend-setter. Although she adopted English fashions, she continued to prefer the cuisine of her native Portugal - including tea. Soon her taste for tea had caused not only a fad at the royal court but had gained social acceptance which then spread among the English aristocracy and then to the wealthier classes.
Catherine was a Roman Catholic, which occasionally made her a victim of popular anti-Catholic feeling. Although she remained in England for some years after her husband's death in 1685, she eventually retired to Portugal where she died in 1705. But While Catherine's experience as queen of England may not have been an entirely successful or happy one in many ways, it is this young foreign princess to whom we have to thank for the development of the British taste for tea.
The actual taking of tea in the afternoon developed into a new social event some time in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s.
The legacy of a Portuguese princess

And the story continues.....
The Horta Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and have offered to present a bust of Catherine of Braganza  as a gift from the Islands of the Azores to the London borough of Lambeth and the Portuguese-speaking community there.
The groups behind the initiative already have an Azorean-based Portuguese sculptor who is designing the statue, which will be made out of basalt stone. This type of volcanic rock is iconic and the most connected with the Azores because of the constant volcanic and seismic activity in the archipelago.

Lambeth Council have responded enthusiastically to the idea, (Interestingly in a multi-racial borough, a proposed statue of the Queen of Tea Drinking comes up without  a lump or two of controversy).Stockwell Labour Councillor Alex Bigham said: 
“This is a fantastic testament to the relationship between Britain and Portugal – the oldest of our alliances. Celebrating Catherine of Braganza reminds of us the shared history of our two nations which is reflected in the vibrant and thriving Portuguese community which we have in Stockwell and the rest of Lambeth.”

Adelina Pereira, a member of the Portuguese community who helped facilitate the gift said
“This artistic endeavour is something that is very close to the heart of the Portuguese people. Although Catherine was initially unpopular because of language difficulties and her Catholic religion, the British public warmed to her because of her decorum and loyalty to her adopted country.”

Lambeth Council officers are currently considering the proposal, and the statue is likely to be situated on Wilcox Road, near the area of Stockwell known as ‘Little Portugal’.

The statue is believed to be the first monument to a person of Portuguese origin in the UK.

Caetano Beirao, As Negociacoes para o casamento da Infanta D. Catarina com Carlos II da Inglaterra (Lisbon, 1942

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bringing it all back home

Suffering from end-of-holiday blues? Cheer up, at least you can relive one small part of it once you´re back home. With a recipe you can recreate the smells and flavours of another land and, as everyone knows, smell-above all other senses-is the most powerful trigger to recalling memories.
Unlike a holiday romance a recipe is a love affair that you CAN bring home with you and cherish for your lifetime. It´s like having a second helping, you have kept something in your back head and then you have the chance to recreate it by having it  handed to you on a plate.The Salt of Portugal recently posted a promotion for Jean Anderson´s book The Food of Portugal. Another great starter to bring home to you the meals you enjoyed in Portugal is The Taste of Portugal by Edite Viera.
For a more indulgent souvenir,which captures the essence of Portugal´s culinary identity, the must have take home cook book is Tessa Kiros´s Piri Piri Starfish. Kiros embroiders the recipes from the land of bay leaves, bacalhau and Piri Piri.  If you have stayed with us at Casa Rosada and enjoyed any of the dishes we have cooked for you we have recipe cards for all our dishes,please contact us by email and hopefully we can respond to your requests. For a limited period here at Casa Rosada we are offering this service to any readers of this blog who have not stayed with us, but might have seen our Facebook page or some other source.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Piri Piri potato wedges-Chips ahoy

I dont know about you but I am always searching for a new way with potatoes.
Chicken Piri Piri is an Algarvian classic.Take the Piri Piri out of the chicken and put it into the potatoes and you have a new and exciting side dish to accompany not only roast chicken or an assortment of other dishes.
Piri piri potato wedges
( Fatias de batatas piri piri)
This recipe is so easy! The best part is you don’t fry these - healthy, healthy - they’re baked in the oven.

1 kg (2 lbs) Red skinned waxy Potatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp  Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs
1 tsp strong Piri -Piri sauce (or any Tabasco sauce)
1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil (I used my own home made chilli oil)

Wash the potatoes and peel them. Cut the potatoes into wedges about 2.5cms (1/2 inch) wide. Rinse and dry with paper towels. Place the potatoes into a large bowl. Coat with the olive oil then add remaining ingredients.Toss them  well to coat. Lightly oil a large baking sheet with oil and some butter or margarine. Spread the potatoes evenly so that each one is flat on the pan. Cook at 400 degrees for about 1 hour. Turn the fries over from time to time to ensure they get crispy all over.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Rita Hayworth and the amazing Spanish cookie

This recipe is very typically Andalucian, but more specifically found in delicatessens and bakeries around the Aljarafe region of Seville and especially in a little town called “Castilleja de la Cuesta” (little castle on the side of the hill).The town is famous for the tortas of INES ROSALES or CANSINO (family descendants  of Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino) I am told that in  this town you can smell the aromas of aniseed, cinnamon olive oil and bread wafting through the streets. As I am sure you all know Rita Hayworth was nicknamed "The Love Goddess." She did the sexy, open mouth Monroe smile before Monroe. She danced like a classy stripper. She had a body that dreams were wasted on. Rita Hayworth was one of the most desirable women in the world, and thanks to her movies, she still is.If you are in this league what better than to have an artesan cookie connection.Whether you are buying the true artesan product from a small independent bakery in Castilleja or from the ever booming Mercadona supermarket in your local Andalucian shopping mall, tribute is due to one woman Dona Ines Rosales,an entrepreneuse from Castilleja who was born in 1892 and died in 1934. She raised alone an entire industry with legitimate and accredited cakes carrying the Rosales name. From a humble start selling out of a basket, Ines Rosales is part of a gallery of Sevillhan women entrepreneuses who were ahead of their time. Ines Rosales cakes conquered the world, perhaps because of the propaganda attached to them by the global rise to fame of that other Castillejan woman, the ever  famous Margarita Cansino, Rita Hayworth in the Age of Hollywood. Like Inés Rosales, Rita Hayworth became famous for a cake. In the Hollywood western "Gilda" it was Glenn Ford who received the biggest slap of the last century when he was on the receiving end of a flying cake. It was indeed the very same Ines Rosales / Cansino olive oil cake from Castilleja that flew across the silver screen and hit him.
The facsimiles of this cake are only poor imitations. Accept no substitute, buy it or make it. There is only one Ines Rosales cake in its intriguing wax paper packaging.They are so delicious! They are crispy and flaky, like a thin, crispy pie crust, and they are salty and sweet, with a burnished glaze of sugar on top. But their real addictive quality comes from the spice: there are little flecks of sweet anise studded into the torta.
These things are as addictive as crack. Spread them with curd cheese and honey,or serve them as an alternative wafer with home made ice cream.I call them sweet Spanish poppadoms. According to their website, the Ines Rosales tortas are over 24% olive oil! They also have a touch of sugar and spices, and they are made and flattened by hand by local women -you cant get much more artesanal than that. They have been made this way since 1910, and they have a rustic, delicate look and taste to them.And if you've had these and would like to try to replicate them at home, my cookie research led me to this  recipe for  Tortas de Aceite (Olive Oil Wafers) which is adapted from La Cocina de Mama: The Great Home Cooking of Spain by Penelope Casas.